Despite owning arbitration rights over the restricted free agent goaltender, the Montreal Canadiens made no attempts to negotiate a new contract with playoff hero Jaroslav Halak before dealing him to St. Louis Thursday afternoon, said to the Slovak goalie’s agent, Allan Walsh.
“Since the end of the season,” Walsh told THN.com, “no one from Montreal has reached out in any way to discuss Jaro’s future with the team.
“Not a word.”
Halak became a hero in Montreal after beating back both the Presidents’ Cup-winning Washington Capitals and defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in two seven games series. In three straight victories against the Caps, Halak repelled 131 of 134 shots from Alex Ovechkin and crew.
St. Louis acquired the netminder in exchange for prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. Eller, 21, played seven games for the Blues this season, notching two goals, while Schultz suited up for the Western League champion Calgary Hitmen.
Widespread debate over Montreal’s crowded crease had been going on all season, but intensified in the playoffs when Halak’s run made him a fan favorite and took the goaltending spotlight away from Carey Price, who was selected fifth overall by the Canadiens in 2005.
“As far as the cost of a player, we evaluate it ourselves,” Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier said. “We don’t need to talk to agents to know how much it’s going to cost. The system is pretty clear, especially for someone who has arbitration rights, so you have a pretty good idea of how much it’s going to cost, at least short-term.”
Halak was drafted 271st overall by Montreal in 2003 and both young netminders entered this summer with contracts, though Halak was eligible for arbitration, meaning the Habs could have kept him if they wanted to and at less than what he would have garnered on the open market.
“They could have pushed through arbitration and had him on a one-year deal,” Walsh noted.